Android, Symbian top malware platforms in China

With 12 million infected users, Nokia's Symbian OS still reigns as No. 1 target in China but rapid jump in Google Android-specific malware makes OS the new "hotspot", report shows.

Symbian and Google's Android operating systems (OSes) are the top two mobile platforms favored by cybercriminals infecting handsets with malware, at least in China, according to a new report.

Chinese Internet security vendor Qihoo 360 noted in its report, released earlier this week, that there were 2,559 new mobile viruses and malware that emerged in China during the first half of 2011. As a result, about 13.24 million mobile phones were infected from the surge in malware activity, it said.

The report also stated that Android has become the new "malware hotspot" for China's mobile landscape, triggered by the operating system's rapid rise in terms of popularity and consumer adoption. During the first six months of 2011, there were 968 new malware and Trojans targeting the mobile platform, an "explosive jump" from just 12 Android-specific Trojans in 2010.

The number of affected users also grew to 1.18 million, it added.

However, Android is still trailing Symbian in terms of the number of malware active on its platform. Qihoo 360 pointed out that over 60 percent, or 1,591, of the new mobile viruses preferred to exploit Nokia's OS over other systems. The reach of the malware is also wider, with about 12.1 million users with malicious software on their handsets, it noted.

Cybercrooks are also moving away from simply infecting mobile handsets to causing system damage, noted the security vendor. Malware authors are now looking to harvest user's private or financial information stored on the phone for profit.

In June, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security vendor Sophos, pointed to Chinese Android users downloading apps from unauthorized online stores, as a significant threat to the overall Android ecosystem. According to him, owners of "white box" phones, or mobile devices not tied to carriers, also pose a risk as they do not receive regular OS updates.


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